Visitors of the world-renowned National Arboretum at Westonbirt now have the opportunity to walk among the treetops. Glenn Howells Architects and engineers Buro Happold completed the STIHL Treetop Walkway, a sinuous pathway that, at 300 meters long, is the longest treetop walkway in the United Kingdom. Crafted with timber legs and a lightweight steel balustrade, the handsome walkway rises into the tree canopy to offer stunning views of the valley floor.
Designed to seamlessly blend into the surrounding environment, the minimalist silver ribbon-like walkway features a natural color and materials palette to keep the focus on the landscape. The foundations are carefully located to avoid disturbance on existing trees. The 300-meter-long elevated path is punctuated at four key points by viewing platforms. The shape of the walkway was determined using advanced computation parametric principles that ensured an equidistant length of 10.5 meters between the walkway’s timber legs.
“We are very proud to have designed this unique treetop walkway for the historic and internationally renowned arboretum at Westonbirt,” said architect Glenn Howells. “The walkway allows all visitors, regardless of age or ability, to experience the site from the treetops for the first time. Focusing on visitor needs and materiality, the walkway is designed to disappear as a sinuous silver ribbon that meanders between trees and canopies. The aim is that this new feature will greatly enhance visitor experience and help to ensure Westonbirt’s popularity for many years to come.” The walkway overlooks many of the 240-hectare Westonbirt Arboretum’s specimens, which include 120 UK champion trees, 73 red data species, and a number of national collections.
Images by Rob Parrish